It has been 6 weeks here in Rosario and I barely felt it. Time flies when we are having fun. I have been incredibly blessed and thankful for my encounters so far. I started my trip with the hope of gaining new connections, experiencing love, passion and an inordinate amount of social connections, and I have been receiving so much more than what I could ask for. As the saying goes, always be careful of what you wished for 😉
That being said, it has been an interesting roller coaster ride of sorts in the past month. My sensations and brain are overloaded with massive amounts of new information coming my way – how people function, how time is a SUPERBLY malleable concept here (I could live here and no one will nag how I am always late), having to get used to living in a less-than-sparkling-clean environment aka Singapore City (an under-functioning economy really does screw the well-beings of its people up) and how people are so much more appreciative of the small things in life that don’t always come from consumerism (sorry, big conglomerates). However, nothing could truly prepare me for the language barrier I thought I will never be faltered by – learning Spanish is truly a BIG challenge for me so far. Apart from being the very few Asians in this city and the countless numbers of curious stares I have gotten from the locals, my inability to speak Spanish fast and well enough have taken a slight emotional toil on me. Simply because I love people, I love to connect, I love to communicate and I want to discover more about the other person I am conversing with. Of course, my long-time friends called The-Fear-Of-Being-Vulnerable and The-Need-To-Look-Good-And-In-Control have obviously been sabotaging my journey to learn the language so far. As silly as it sounds, I have been waking up to mental struggles every day, prepping myself to remain open and foolish, and to absorb every sensation and experience like a dry sponge.
Something as simple as learning a new language needs so much courage and vulnerability. To be willing to bare my imperfections to another stranger, risk being mocked and laughed at, and look stupid. For a long enough time, I had subconsciously refused to risk anything, and I always chose my safety net. Take studying Spanish for example; I had always automatically reverted back to English as my preferred choice of speech right after classes all the time, stubbornly clinging unto my safety rope for that false sense of security. Sure, I felt comforted and at ease but I also felt incredible crappy and whimpy. I didn’t come here to be a wuss. It sucked.
The more we hide our imperfections, the louder they scream. There is no running away.
On a separate note, I cooked for around 10 people for my friends’ farewell dinner party here 2 weeks back. Anyone in Singapore would know that I am hardly a chef back home and I obviously had a zillion self-doubts about my culinary abilities. I incessantly chided and complained about how I had screwed the food up, and my friends finally shut me up with these golden words – “Stop putting yourself down!” – “Jane, stop it! No one will compare you to anyone!” It was like a big (but gentle, I love my sweethearts here) slap in my face and a great wakeup call. In control? Have everything in my own stride? Ya right. My insecurities were screaming at the top of their lungs.
So in the last week, I decided to seriously FUCK it. I am just going to go with the flow and be ME. I don’t want to care how people will perceive me anymore, I just want to get what I want done.
Yesterday night, I went to an open table session where people endeavouring to practise Spanish/English gathered and strangers chatted (think of a social dating activity just that the intention is to improve languages). And I spoke whatever Spanish I could squeeze out of my brain. And while I could only, perhaps, understand 50% of their responses back to me, everyone I spoke to said that for 6 weeks, I had learnt a pretty decent amount of vocabulary. And more importantly, they all understood me! That was such a relief and revelation. This sounds crazy but I was beaming with joy. 🙂
So many times, what we think of the situation often differs from how another thinks or sees. And for the many times I feel inadequate, I should instead, be proud that I have taken this path once again to be in an environment where it’s totally new and novel. To explore out of my comfort zone in my quest to keep learning and understanding. To remain naive, foolish and silly. I am brave. So brave. And damn, it feels so good.